Churches to champion voter registration

As a General Election approaches, a new initiative has been launched that will equip local churches to increase democratic participation through registering people to vote, providing information about the need to have appropriate photo ID, and encouraging people to vote on polling day.

Get registered, get voter ID, Engage, Vote

As Voter Registration Week (4-11 March) begins, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Church of Scotland, Methodist Church and United Reformed Church have been announced as ambassadors for the Voter Registration Champions initiative set up by Citizens UK.

The Electoral Commission has warned that 8 million eligible voters may not vote at the next General Election because they don’t register to vote in time; 4 million eligible voters may not vote because they do not have appropriate Photo ID; and 14 million eligible voters may not vote because they are not motivated to turn out to vote on election day. This lack of participation is skewed – you are at greater risk of not being able to participate in the democratic process if you are: young, a non-UK national, rent your home, have moved recently, live in an economically-disadvantaged community, or are from an ethnic minority. 

The Voter Registration Champions scheme has been set up to engage groups to address this, and encourage democratic participation, in a non-partisan way. Organisations, employers, universities and community and faith groups can be accredited as Voter Registration Champions, and will be provided with free support and resources to help them enrol voters.

Local churches are encouraged to sign up as Voter Registration Champions, as a way of helping to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate and be heard in the democratic process.

Green quotation mark

Revd Gill Newton and Kerry Scarlett, President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, said “As a justice-seeking church, we understand acting for justice and transformation as part of our discipleship; of our becoming more Christ-like. We know that in our communities, there are people who do not know that, in a democratic process, voting is a way to make their voices heard, and to join in shaping a flourishing society. Or, they may not know how to register to vote. That’s why the Methodist Church is supporting the Voter Registration Champions initiative, and encouraging local churches to get involved in helping to overcome barriers to people’s participation in our political processes. We urge everyone to ‘love, pray and vote’ this election year.”

Yellow quotation mark

Thomas Hart, Youth President of the Methodist Church, added: “The Methodist Church is supporting the Voter Registration Champions initiative to encourage as many people to register to vote and to make their democratic voice heard regardless of age, gender, race or belief. In so many parts of our world, the right to vote is denied, so as the Youth President, I would particularly encourage our young people to register, and then to exercise their democratic right to vote. Young people have the greatest stake in the future, so our engagement in the democratic process is vital.”

Pink quotation mark

Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said: “As a woman, I am acutely aware that in the UK, for every free adult to have the ability to vote is a hard-fought right, and yet sadly millions of UK citizens will miss out on their chance to vote when the general election is called because they are not registered. Those who are young, those who live in economically-disadvantaged communities, and those from ethnic minority backgrounds are statistically at a greater risk of missing out on voting for this very reason – and yet so often it is these marginalised communities, amongst others, that are impacted most acutely by the decisions of those who are elected.

“Christians believe that God has called us to seek the peace and prosperity of the places in which we live, one way we can do that is to listen to prospective parliamentary candidates, pray for them, reflect on their policies, and use our votes. There are many challenges facing our communities and the wider world in which we live, but few of these challenges are inevitable, they are often the consequences of decisions made in places of power. I am very pleased that the Baptist Union of Great Britain is now a Voter Registration Ambassador – we will encourage all our churches to become Voter Registration Champions and to do what they can to encourage everyone to register and exercise their right to vote.”

Blue quotation mark

Revd Dr Tessa Henry-Robinson, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, reflected that “As followers of Christ, engaging with the democratic process reflects our faith in action. When we participate in the electoral process, it is not just about making a choice on a ballot; it is about standing up for our individual and collective values, concerns and aspirations.”

Green quotation mark

Explaining the decision of the Church of Scotland to support the initiative, Emma Jackson, Convener of the Public Life and Social Justice Group, said: “In a just and compassionate society, exercising our right to vote in one of key ways in which we can not only participate in democracy, but demonstrate our love for our neighbour as we engage in the issues that affect us all and we seek to hold our leaders to account. The Church of Scotland in uniquely placed in communities all around Scotland and is delighted to be working with Citizens UK and others as we help encourage and facilitate voter registration and participation in elections.”

16 April is the deadline for registering to vote for local and mayoral elections that are taking place in many parts of England on 2 May.

Find out more about becoming a Voter Registration Champion

Find out more about new requirements for photo ID

Visit the JPIT general election resources hub

4 March 2024


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